Mighty Mongo
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Mighty Mongo

Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States

Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States
Rock Ska

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Video Interview - YouTube


Bayboro’s Coquina Club welcomed a trio of talented bands for a free weekend concert on March 2 sponsored by the Harborside Activities Board.

Headlining the event was Mighty Mongo, a four-piece with local roots that has recently struck out onto the national music scene. The band, describing its sound as a fusion of rock, punk and ska, has gathered quite a following in the Tampa Bay area, and will be playing a good leg of the Van’s Warped Tour this summer.

Joining Mongo for the performance at Bayboro were opening acts Danfield and Assemble the Skyline. Danfield, a local three-piece, initiated the night with their unique blend of groovy, multi-genre rock. Songs ranged sporadically from funk and alternative rock to ska and even country, all of them riddled with randomly inserted dreamy jams.

Assemble the Skyline, a visiting L.A. band whose members included a couple of St. Pete natives, also made a worthy addition to the show, emitting a solid barrage of Blink 182 inspired pop-punk rock.

Mighty Mongo topped off the evening with a lively and raucous performance. Their playful interchange of male and female dual vocals layered over a backdrop of reggae and punk rhythms made for a refreshing soundscape, one that called to mind radiating sunlight and the roll of ocean waves. All three bands managed to create a highly engaging and down to earth experience that kept the crowd shaking and swaying along throughout the evening for a musically induced good time.

For those interested in experiencing first hand, Mighty Mongo will be hopping onto the Van’s Warped Tour at the Boston show in July and finishing out at Portland in August. Their high-energy presence and unique sound will be sure to please the ears of more music-lovers this summer and swell the ranks of their fan-base. In the meantime, you can catch them and Danfield playing at a multitude of local shows, the dates of which are listed on their respective Facebook pages. - USF


*Video Interview w/ vocalist/ bassist Alex Card and guitarist Anthony Isoldi. - South Florida Insider


Students Alex Card and Anthony Isoldi will be rocking stages across the U.S. alongside other famous musicians this summer with their band Mighty Mongo at The Vans Warped Tour 2012.

Card and Isoldi have attended USFSP since their freshman year in 2008. The band officially formed in fall 2008 when Card and Isoldi met in Residence Hall One. Isoldi lived in the dorm room directly above Card and after a few weeks of overhearing Isoldi’s guitar riffs, Card ventured upstairs and befriended him.

The two bonded over their shared passion for music. They spent their free time jamming together and soon after Isoldi called childhood friend Scotty Chmura to play drums with them. The three clicked and Mighty Mongo was born.

The band started playing gigs at bars and restaurants in St. Petersburg and Tampa. They branched out into Gainesville and Citrus County, and eventually began to travel to Orlando, West Palm Beach and the Florida Keys.

A few years later, the band added a second vocalist, Lindsay Vitola.

Their booking schedule continued to grow.

In 2011, Mighty Mongo recorded its first studio album called “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions” which was also available on iTunes. While the band continued to move forward, Card and Isoldi balanced full time school schedules and earned good grades. Card, lead singer and bassist, is a history major and Isoldi, lead guitarist, is an English literature major.

“It is like any job,” Card said of balancing the band, classes and homework. “It is extremely time consuming playing gigs, recording an album, practicing and booking shows. There have certainly been times when we were doing homework at a bar and were tired in class, but we managed to do it.”

Card said that while education is important, but life experiences are what college is about.

“Going out and exploring outside the classroom, pursuing a dream, finding out what you like and don’t like—that is how you learn who you really are,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing, we are learning about ourselves. We are pushing each other to accomplish these goals. We have built a company for ourselves.”

Adjunct Fred Ulrich recently had Isoldi as a student in an upper level writing class, and said he was a good writer, “always spot on.”

“Anthony’s personality was very unique. He was inquisitive, creative and always appreciated new and different ideas,” Ulrich. He chose to study and report on topics that other students knew very little about. He liked to study things that no one else knew.”

Ulrich was also impressed with Isoldi as a musician. “On our first day of class, he gave me a CD of his band’s latest recording. That began a bond that was not based on academics alone,” he said. “As a former guitarist, I appreciated what Anthony was doing. I was most impressed by him as a student, as well as what he is trying to do as a musician. He is chasing his dream, and I think he will catch it.”

Both Card and Isoldi are graduating this year—just in time for their summer adventure with Warped Tour. When Mighty Mongo was asked to play on the tour, the band members were ecstatic. “This is the fuel for the fire of our dreams,” Card said.

Most bands not signed with a record label usually get one or two dates around their hometown if they get the chance to play Warped Tour. Mighty Mongo was asked to play 15, including Orlando, Tampa and Miami. - USF


As Cliche as it sounds, it's a dream come true. Scotty Chmura, Anthony Isoldi, Alex Card and Lindsay Vitola, collectively known as Mighty Mongo, recently learned their band will play 15 cities — from Boston to Miami and out West to Seattle and Portland — on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour.

The Warped Tour is an annual traveling summer festival that spotlights young up-and-coming bands and extreme sports, sponsored by Vans, the skateboard and shoe company.

“In high school every year, everyone was like, ‘Are you going to the Warped Tour? Are you going to the Warped Tour?’ Everybody wanted to go,” said 24-year-old Chmura. “Now, to be going as a band — being offered the Warped Tour is like getting an A on a test that you never thought you’d ever pass, especially algebra. I’m still shocked.”

Chmura, the band’s drummer, is a student at the College of Central Florida.

“This is a huge turning point in our band’s career,” said Card, 22, a senior at the University of South Florida and one of the band’s lead singers. “This forces us to reinvent ourselves as an original band and not just a cover band.”

For Isoldi, 21, also a student at USF and Mongo guitarist, the tour means getting a shot at being heard by masses of people across the nation.

“The Warped Tour was started specifically for alternative rock bands that aren’t huge yet, yet it gives them a chance to be a part of something larger than one band at one show,” he said.

He added bands such as Green Day, Sublime and No Doubt were launched into super stardom from the Warped Tour.

“Having someone like Kevin Lyman believe in you enough to give you dates on his tour is such an incredible feeling of validation for all the hard work we have put in over the last two years,” said lead singer Vitola, 23. “It makes us want to work even harder in the coming months.”

She said one of the best compliments they ever received was from a recording engineer, who called the foursome “perfectly flawed.”

“We each have our own set of deficiencies and weaknesses, but with each weakness, one of the other four of us fills the gap,” she said. “We each have a special role in the band that could never be fulfilled or replaced by anyone else. We’re mated for life — like, polygamous lobsters, or something.”

The boys in the band unanimously agreed they wouldn’t be who or where they are if it wasn’t for Vitola — for many reasons, including urging them to attend a music conference in Atlanta last year.

That’s where they ran into Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, who had remembered hearing and being impressed by Mighty Mongo.

He and Chmura sent a few emails back and forth after that.

“Then one day I get an email from him saying, ‘Are you willing to accept these dates for the Warped Tour?’ I went outside my house and screamed, I was so excited,” Chmura said.

“We’re on the Warped Tour website, which is exciting,” Card said. “It’s exciting to see your (band) name up there with bands who have been in the industry for so long and are regarded as famous.”

Although they didn’t disclose how much they’ll be paid, they said it covers their expenses.

“Making money depends on us, how hard we sell merchandise,” Card said.

The band has one CD, “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions,” which is available on iTunes, and is recording an EP. Fans can listen to some of their songs on their website, www.mightymongoband.us, and download “Myth Head” free.

“We do cover gigs — that’s our ‘day job,’” Isoldi said. They’re regulars at clubs in Orlando, St. Pete, Miami, Siesta Key and venues around Citrus County, where Chmura and Isoldi grew up and Chmura still lives.

“That’s good for networking,” Isoldi said, “but it doesn’t further our original music like the Warped Tour will.”

Chmura said, “We’ve been progressing and we’re playing regularly and the fan base is getting big, but there’s been nothing that gave us that jump until now. Now it’s like we’ve shifted into third gear. Yeah, we’re pretty pumped.” - Citrus Chronicle


One of the largest ever crowds gathered in downtown Inverness for the June 3 Rock the Block. More than 1,200 people from every cross section of our community rocked out to the four bands who performed their hearts out for this free concert.

It’s safe to say performing bands UNRB, 10th Concession, Anchor Atlantic and Mighty Mongo gained hundreds of fans, and they received a well deserved and huge ovation for their talent. More important, those who supported this event also deserve applause and appreciation for having faith in this first-ever endeavor between the city and the nonprofit Aspire Inc. organization that helped organize everything.

We want to thank: Dr. Shaun Saint, RotoRooter, Stack Underground Sprinklers, Citrus Cardiology, Giant Promotions, Seven Rivers Christian School, Filter, Golden X Plumbing, ReLife Counseling, Mitch Duncan & Sons Plumbing, Steven Chmura Plumbing, JM Plumbing Services, Pro H20, WalkerFest, TLC Rehab, The Ice Cream Dr., Stumpknockers on the Square, TM Neely Construction Inc., BFG, Fogetaboutit Pizzeria and Restaurant, CEM Solutions, Dillon’s Irish Pub and The Grove Downtown for allowing this to be a great success.

A special thanks to Scotty Chmura of Mighty Mongo for assembling the other bands, as well as Kari Peters, Katie Chmura and Drenda Stack from Aspire for their hard work with sponsors, vendors and the layout.

Last but not least, thanks to Betty Lou Soape for her tireless effort to pull this off.

Your City of Fun — Inverness — is already planning an “encore” to continue bringing high energy entertainment to our great and beautiful city.
- Citrus Chronicle


Any band can put on a concert. For “Cinco de Mongo,” the May 5 party to celebrate the release of their first full-length album, the members of Mighty Mongo wanted to put on a show.

And they did.

The four-member band that includes Citrus High School alums Anthony Isoldi on lead guitar and Scott Chmura on drums took the stage of the Vintage Ultra Lounge, electrifying the crowd. Bass player Alex Card and keytar player Lindsay Vitola share lead vocals.

Mighty Mongo rocked the club with smoking guitar solos and tight vocals punctuated by rhythms that ranged from reggae and Ramone-speed punk to swing and samba.

Guest musicians Luke Albright on key­board, trumpet player Cameron Willinger, guitarist Evan Koteles and Chmura’s father, Steve, also lent their talent.

A pair of go-go-style dancers spent some time on stage. Later, a clown that seemed inspired by Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter look accompanied by two masked dancers made an appearance, turning live music into performance art and urging the crowd to chant “Mongo, Mongo, Mongo,” and “One more song.”

Isoldi thanked the audience for coming to the band’s album release party.

“This is the coolest thing that has ever happened,” he said.

Citrus High School chorus teacher John Edel and his wife, Lisa, came to hear Mighty Mongo, riding a charter bus from Inverness arranged for the special occasion.

Edel said Isoldi and Chmura were his former students.

“They were awesome then and they’re better now,” Edel said.

“The drummer is like a son of ours,” Mrs. Edel said.

He said their success also serves as an incentive to Citrus County’s youths.

“It lets them know that it can be done,” he said. “They just have to work hard and hone their talent.”
Dave Pieklik, events coordinator for the city of Inverness, also rode the Mighty Mongo bus to Thursday’s show. He said he has been a fan since the band’s early days.

“It’s neat to see them grow and mature as a band and become more successful,” he said, “and I just really felt the need to support them.”

Pieklik said about 40 passengers rode the bus from Inverness to St. Petersburg for the show.
“It was a fun atmosphere,” he said. “Everybody was just getting really excited.”

Pieklik also plans to bring Mighty Mongo and other bands geared toward younger audiences to Courthouse Square for a June 3 concert.

Chmura said the upcoming show will also include 10th Concession, Anchor Atlantic and UNRB.
“I’m so excited because I was able to get all those bands because those are, like, all heavy-hitter bands,” Chmura said. “They’re very good at what they do.”

And on Friday afternoon, though his arms were still sore from pouring — or pounding — his body and soul into his drum kit, Chmura said the CD release party for the “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions” album brought fans from all over the region, Inverness and Orlando to Sarasota and Gainesville.
“For us it was like the prom of the year.” - Citrus Chronicle


You'd never guess that these guys (and gal) just formed a little over a year ago; an unmatched work ethic and mutual dedication to music sets Mighty Mongo apart from many area bands.

A few simple twists of fate brought the Mighty Mongo together and seem to be propelling the members to early success.

That certainly seemed to be the case Thursday night when the group performed at Vintage Ultra Lounge for "Cinco de Mongo," in downtown St. Pete. Mighty Mongo also just released its first CD.

But let's back track for a moment to see how quickly Mighty Mongo has come together and become a popular name on the St. Pete music scene.

Drummer Scotty Chmura and guitarist Anthony Isoldi went to high school together and reconnected a couple years ago, with their shared interest in music and starting a band.

Isoldi then met "this awesome singer" and bassist -- Alex Card -- and the three started playing small gigs, including at Z-Grille. Things just grew organically.

A friend at Z-Grille suggested another addition to the group: Lindsay Vitola. One night during a regular set, Vitola hopped up on stage for an impromptu audition. The group tried their hand at Coldplay's "Clocks."

"The minute that Alex and Lindsay synced on their harmonies, it all just clicked," said Chmura.

The rest is history in the short life of Mighty Mongo. Pretty soon, the band was playing its first gig -- at Backstage Lounge in Gainesville -- where a slew of bad to the bone bikers were their tough crowd to please.

"It was like something straight out of the Blues Brothers," Card recalls. "We played all our own songs that night, too."

In less than two years, the foursome jumped from doing one or two small gigs a week to booking between seven to 10 larger venues per week. They do not easily fit into one music category and instead blend genres that include punk, reggae and rock. It all comes together in a frenetic, catchy mix.

There's something youthful and sophisticated about their songs, such as "Immafish," "Happy Place" and "Clark Kent." There's a certain hopefulness that is infectious, with retro-electric rhythms that take the listener on a fun journey.

Mighty Mongo's standard routine is to show up at least two hours before every show, which automatically sets the group apart from other competition. Owners of the many different venues agree. "We've never not been invited back somewhere" said Lindsay Vitola.

Here's how the group describes itself on Facebook: "Voted the hardest working band in the Bay, Mighty Mongo has won every Battle of the Bands competition they've ever entered and played awesome venues throughout the state including Jannus LIVE!, State Theatre, Vinoy Park Warped Tour 2010, the Hard Rock Casino, Skipper's Smokehouse, Backstage Lounge, Meyer Amphitheater and more."

But that's only their night job. Vitola (22), a paralegal during the week, is the only one who has another job besides the music. Chmura (23), Card (21) and Isoldi (21) are all full time students at USF St. Petersburg.

Unlike other bands that play music as a side job, these four plan on making it a career. "As long as it lasts is as long as we will stay together," promised Isoldi.

With that decision in tow, the group began work on their first album just a few months back. "This year we decided, 'we are a business and we are four equal shareholders in Mighty Mongo Inc.,'" explained Vitola.

Out of their own pockets, Mighty Mongo paid for the production of their first CD, as well as the cost to host the ultra popular event, "Cinco de Mongo."

Their goal was to make the night memorable. The hired staff included festive stilt walkers, a mariachi band, dancers and a high end sound crew that produces for places like Busch Gardens.

More than 300 Mighty Mongo wrist bands were given at the door, which proved the party to be overly successful. Music is the motive for these Florida-bred youngsters and with their ever-growing popularity, fame may be within reach. - Patch


All those cover gigs and all that time on the road — the musicians of Mighty Mongo hope their hard work will pay off when they officially release their album, “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions.”


In honor of the occasion, they are throwing themselves a party dubbed “Cinco de Mongo” from 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Vintage Ultra Lounge in St. Petersburg. “Decisions” will also be available on iTunes starting that evening.

The band roster includes two Citrus High School grads: drummer Scott Chmura and lead guitarist Anthony Isoldi. Alex Card, bass and lead vocals, and Lindsay Vitola, lead vocalist and keytar player, round out the group.

Chmura said the party is going to be “huge” with four bands playing and “Dave the Dwarf,” an area deejay, and surprises.

“We also have a burrito-eating contest,” he said. “Trust me; we’re going all out on this. We’re going to have stilt walkers, a mariachi band, and it’s going to be a good time.”

Local fans who can’t make the weeknight trip to St. Petersburg can catch Mighty Mongo starting at 9 p.m. Friday, April 29, at High Octane Saloon in Homosassa.

Chmura said they have been saving up for about nine months to pay for professional studio time. That means nine months’ worth of shows, playing mostly other people’s music instead of their own. But Chmura said they have a rule about it: “We will not play any stereotypical bar song.”

That means no “Mustang Sally.” Not ever.

“We’re always out of the box,” he said, “and the covers that we do sound like we wrote them ourselves.”

Card said the band plays four to seven gigs a week, but sometimes as many as 10.

“It’s like having a full-time job,” he said.

This can be challenging for him and Chmura, who are both also full-time college students. Card, 21, started singing when he was in high school.

“I played in a punk band in the Tampa area called Live Dog for a couple years,” he said.

Card said he was very excited about their upcoming release party for their first full-length album...

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got a lot of faith in the original music,” he said.

Chmura described the album as a blend of pop, rock and ska.

The reason for the album is to take the band to the next level.

“We all agreed the only way we could really get out there,” Chmura said, “is if we had a really good product we could sell to a record label.”

Chmura said their goal is rock star status.

“Not to sound cocky, but we’re just driven by making it happen,” he said.
- Citrus Chronicle


It’s the final day of mixing on Mighty Mongo’s first full-length album, and the band has decided that the final song — Campfire Ballad — needs a name change.

Alternate titles are thrown out, some serious, some not.

Sing To Me. To The Moon. Bite My Bluegrass. Daisy Dukes. Lieutenant Sunshine. Do Me. Rapsquatch (“Half velociraptor, half sasquatch”). Have I Ever Told You That I Have AIDS?

Every time someone suggests a good one, singer and bassist Alex Card jots it on a legal pad. Then someone pitches a better one, and Card laughs and scratches it out. The room is full of laughter, with zero bickering among bandmates.

“We don’t have any creativity left,” says singer and keytarist Lindsey Vitola. “It’s all gone.

Such is life in Mighty Mongo, a fun-loving, free-wheeling new entry in the Tampa Bay music scene. Their original songs could best be described as “party music” — a quirky, high-energy blend of ska, pop, reggae and jam, in the vein of No Doubt, Sublime, Smash Mouth or the B-52s. They cover everyone from Lady Gaga to Journey to Lil Wayne with unbridled joy.

If that doesn’t sound like music that any critic would dare take seriously ... well, who cares?

“When you see bands playing, they’re trying to be something,” said drummer Scotty Chmura. “But we don’t care. We care about sounding good, but ... we’re just a real band, a cheesy bunch of kids, who want to make music and entertain everyone.”

“We have more than one song about a fish,” said Vitola. ’Nuff said.

Since forming two years ago, Mighty Mongo have performed relentlessly, occasionally booking two shows a night, and they have a devoted network of friends and fans that has helped them win every battle of the bands they’ve entered — more than a half-dozen in all. One of those battles resulted in a gig at last year’s Warped Tour stop in St. Petersburg.

Chmura and guitarist Anthony Isoldi were high school friends from Inverness; Isoldi and Card live in the same dorm at USF-St. Pete. The three of them started playing laid-back lounge and reggae music in local bars and restaurants, but didn’t take it too seriously until one day, at the urging of her friends, Vitola joined the band onstage for a reggae rendition of Coldplay’s Clocks.

They went on to jam for nine minutes.

“Eventually, we just knew: It works,” Card said.

Until that point, Vitola had only performed at a restaurant on Harbour Island. But her voice and vibe fit well with the band, so Card and Vitola decided to become co-lead singers. And when they found out she played piano, too, they bought her a keytar. “And now the keytar is the fifth member of the band,” Vitola said.

Vitola also helped reshape Mighty Mongo into an efficient, productive institution. She became the taskmaster, the one who would cold-call bars, asking for gigs. “It just sounds better when a girl calls a place,” Card said.

“We don’t have outside management, we don’t have outside help,” Vitola said. “Our parents aren’t funding this little project that their kids want to do. This is the four of us. We’re a business. We work our asses off to pay for everything ourselves. We’re very self-sufficient within the four of us.”

When it came time to record their debut album, Mighty Mongo scrimped and saved until they could afford to do so at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, a nationally renowned studio that has produced albums by the likes of Seven Mary Three, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Cannibal Corpse. It wasn’t cheap.

“We could have bought a car,” Chmura said.

“And a trailer, and maybe some new equipment, too,” Card laughed.

But in the studio, you get what you pay for. And while the process has depleted the band’s hard-earned savings, the end result, Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions, is distinctly polished, passionate and genre-defying. They’ll release it with a May 5 concert at Vintage Ultra Lounge in St. Petersburg. The’re calling it: “Cinco de Mongo.”

The name is fun. It’s catchy. And it fits Mighty Mongo. There is no debate about that. - Tampa Bay Times


April 2009

From clubs in Pensacola to the Florida Keys and a lot of gigs in St. Pete, the Mighty Mongo Band is making a splash.

At least that’s what they hope.

In the few short months they’ve been together, the three former members of Citrus High School’s BREEZ and their lead singer from St. Pete have been sharing their reggae/soul/rock/funk sound across Florida — and trying to separate themselves from the thousands of other bands trying to get noticed.

“We’re out there trying to create a buzz,” said band spokesman and drummer, Scott Chmura. “That’s what labels notice. If they notice you’re making money, they want to be in on that.”

“Making money separates you from other bands, and we’re making money,” said lead singer Alex Card. “That feels professional.”

The band members are:

Alex Card, 19, lead singer and rhythm guitar. Card grew up in the Tampa area. Currently, he’s a student at the University of South Florida, studying business. He’s also a lifeguard at USF.

Musically, he likes the “old stuff” — the Temptations and Miles Davis.

“I have a lot of respect for singers like the Temptations because they have a lot of harmonies and are so versatile in their music,” he said.

Anthony Isoldi, 19, lead guitar. Isoldi, a CHS graduate, attends USF where he’s majoring in English literature, and gives guitar lessons.

“I like everything from reggae to rock and classic rock and blues,” he said. As for his inspirations, Isoldi named Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. What’s most surprising about the guitarist: He taught himself to play and has never had a lesson.

Mike McDowell, 19, bass guitar. Also a CHS graduate, McDowell attends the University of West Florida in Pensacola, majoring in social science. He travels 400 miles one way once a week to rehearse with the band.

“I grew up listening to a lot of Eric Clapton,” he said. “My favorite bass players are Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting from The Police.”

Scott Chmura, 22, drums and percussion. The oldest of the group, Chmura was in CHS’s BREEZ swing band and also played with Carnival Arrest as a teenager.

His biggest musical inspirations are Gene Krupa and Keith Moon.

“I’ve played everything, from the Temptations to church music to polka,” he said. “It’s all about the groove.”

Chmura teaches drums, is a student at Central Florida Community College studying business, is a substitute teacher in Citrus County — and a newlywed.

He met his wife, Katie, while playing drums at Journey Church in Inverness.

Chmura recently returned to Citrus County after spending two years in Hollywood, Calif., where he attended Musicians Institute and tried to make it big, or at least make it in the music industry.

While there he played with Katy Perry (but didn’t get hired) and also The Offspring and had a great opportunity to play percussion with Stevie Wonder and John Mayer at a House Full of Toys benefit concert at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

He had gone to Hollywood with big dreams and returned to Florida disillusioned, but determined and appreciative of his home state.

“It’s more business than music out there,” he said. “The musicians are amazing, but everyone goes there. I learned a lot, though.

“I kept a positive attitude while I was out there, but I really missed the hospitality of Florida — people greeting you on the street,” he said. “In L.A., a lot of bands have to pay to play really crappy clubs. Here in Florida, people appreciate music a lot more.”

When he returned, he tried starting several bands, but none clicked until he and his former BREEZ members got together. Isoldi introduced them to Card, whom he met at USF. The two had been writing songs together.

“I’ve had bad luck with singers before, but Alex has so much soul,” Chmura said. “He’s sung in chorus, in church, and he’s great.”

Mighty Mongo plays covers and originals, mostly dance music.

“We throw our originals in with our covers and make them equal so people will still groove to the stuff they remember and also like our music, too,” Chmura said.

They recently played for the Inverness Relay for Life (and Chmura got married the next day). What they’d like to do is play at the local high schools during school spirit weeks or for assemblies.

“We just want people to hear us,” Card said. “We want people to dance.”

To hear some of Mighty Mongo’s original music, listen on the band’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/MightyMongoBand.

- Citrus Chronicle



November 2009

"You should try out for American Idol" is the typical first response of those people who have heard Lindsay Vitola sing. If she had a dime for every time she heard that, she'd be a millionaire.
The fact is she lasted all of 9 seconds before preliminary judges said, "Thanks but no thanks". That was moments before a guy in a lobster suit was passed on to the next round. So what does that tell you?
Typical of her sweet and humble nature, the 24-year-old simply shrugs her shoulders and smiles when the subject is brought up.
While gimmicks and luck have propelled lesser performers on a faster track to the spotlight, Vitola is at heart a true vocalist and lets her voice speak for itself. And that it does. From show tunes to rock n' roll, she has the kind of voice thatgives people goosebumps...literally.
Her time will come, and Tampa, you have an opportunity to see a rising star in its infancy. Six months ago Vitola was singing while playing her keyboard in her bedroom. But since that time, stints at That's Amore on Harbour Island and The Fly downtown have propelled her burgeoning career toward a path which has her booked, with band Mighty Mongo, six nights a week at various venues throughout Western Florida.
Here at AS*I*BE there isn't a second of hesitation when we say Lindsay Vitola is unequivocally one of the greatest talents in the Bay Area. And you can see in the following interview, she's witty and intelligent as well.
AS*I*BE: When was the first time you remember saying, "I want to sing"?
LV: I was five years old hanging out at my grandmother's house and she was teaching me how to play Yankee Doodle on the piano. Somewhere between feathers and macaroni, something just clicked, and I was a goner. Much like I imagine people feel when they fall in love, I didn't want to do or see or be around anything else. I spent that whole summer at her house cultivating my love for singing and performing. My grandmother showed me old musicals, from Shirley Temple and Elvis to Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, brought me to church to sing in the choir with her twice a week, and taught me everything I know about the piano. I was a really lucky kid.
AS*I*BE: Where was the first place you performed solo in front of a crowd?
LV: I was in first grade and sang an Amy Grant song clutching a Bible in one hand and a Precious Moments doll in the other at my school's annual talent show. At the dress rehearsal, the teacher running the show said that if I wanted to sing, I had to hold props during my song to limit my mobility and keep the performance from becoming too "flashy". Apparently the things I had learned studying Elvis at grandma's house was not received well by my elementary school.
AS*I*BE: What are your top three songs to sing?
LV: I think one of the coolest things about music is its ability to essentially transcend reality and bring you back to specific memories in your life. I love the way the opening measure of a song can completely rock someone's world. No one can really articulate the way they feel when they hear their favorite song - they just feel it in their soul, to their core. It has the power toamplify whatever you're feeling in a particular moment.
If I'm in a good mood on a Saturday morning and a song I like comes on the radio... dude, forget it. The windows go down, volume goes up, and I make a complete fool out of myself dancing as hard as the front seat will allow. Why do you think expectant mothers put headphones on their bellies? Why do movies have soundtracks? Why do people take so much pride in burning a cd for a friend? Because music is the most fluid and effective medium through which emotions can travel in the most powerful of ways. It is the language of the world (math-schmath). My favorite songs to sing are constantly changing, but the list is based on songs that remind me of memories I enjoy reliving at the moment my top three are:
*Every Disney Movie song EVER! Don't front on that Goofy Movie soundtrack! * Hardest Part Coldplay * Bad Reputation Joan Jett
AS*I*BE: That's a fairly indiscriminate list. What did you grow up listening to?
LV: I'm a huge fan of the Beatles and Led Zepplin and the debate over which band is the greatest of all time is one I'm still battling with in my head. I appreciate range, and artists or groups which can't be defined in simple terms.
AS*I*BE: If you could sing at any venue in the world, where would it be?
LV: I would love to sing on Broadway in New York City! My brother and I used to run through the house pretending our hallways were New York City alleys, snapping our fingers like only a true Jet could. I'm pretty sure that qualifies me for the stage. As far as concert venues go, I don't think it gets any better than The Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington.
AS*I*BE: You're the oldest of five children, from a family born and raised in Spring Hill. With the holidays upon us, what do you want to say to your family and everybody els - What's Hot Tampa Bay


A red spotlight illuminates the chipped relief of a horse. Its exaggerated shadows flicker as Alex Card stands beneath it, a bass raged by the movement of his fingers. He presses his mouth to a microphone, and his voice resonates with the lyrics to "Blitzkrieg Bop." The words are affected with a slight British accent as Card revolves his torso, exaggerating the lanky movements of Joey Ramone. "Everything's like rounded out...like a drunk pirate," he says. "I try really hard sometimes...to do impersonations of other singers...I was recently taking classes on jazz, and we had to do this assignment on a jazz musician. I did Louis Armstrong, and I found out that that's one of my favorite musicians to imitate."

Card begins to mumble an impression of Bob Dylan, his eyes half-closed as his hands flail in parody of the folk icon. "Anthony's better at doing 'Low Rider,'" their drummer, Scotty Chmura, says of the lead guitarist, who sings the 1975 hit by War. "It's the only song he sings." Lindsay Vitola, their female vocalist and keys player, laughs as she describes her current fixation with Joan Jett. "I just saw [The Runaways]...It was freaking amazing...I immediately went out and bought these leather pants." She is considering cutting her hair in a mullet, to which Isoldi responds, "We should all cut our hair in mullets."

On stage, they transition to an original song, "Maximus Res." To Card's left, Isoldi, calmly grips a Fender Strat, strumming bright chords to fill in the tight transience of the live kit. He picks a melody to a reggae beat, while Vitola scats, her voice reverberating from the speakers with rich soulfulness. The verses are interposed with Isoldi's screaming guitar solos. As Card and Chmura play wildly beside him, his fingers glide determinedly across the fret board, sculpting a dirty lead. His face is calm as the notes echo with that classic Fender reverb, the velvet tone gripping its surroundings.

The lyrics are brilliant: DeCarte can you tell me who I am, he said, "I think therefore I jam." This song is entangled to all history and time, one small jam for man, one giant jam for mankind. Card writes most of their music. "Usually I'll just have like a really simple melody," he says, which Vitola calls the shell of the song. "Like Cleopatra," Isoldi replies. "The only thing that you had whenever you showed it to us was the bass line...and the melody too."

"It's like a formula," continues Chmura. "If he comes up with a good riff...and he can hum a melody...[Anthony and I] will come up with little things here and there...like hits and pauses." Card describes the process of creating Cleopatra. "If you listen to the CD, it's got so much stuff going on. It's crazy...There's like bridges and there's a different solo...there's a whole different chord progression. There's hits, and there's stops. We changed up the way rhythmically it's played."

It is apparent through their music and interaction that these four musicians have an ideal dynamic. Card, Chmura, and Isoldi started Mighty Mongo a year and a half ago. "I call Scotty 'my drummer,'" Isoldi says of Chmura. Vitola joined the band in September of 2009 when they heard her sing at Z Grill. However, as Chmura begins to describe his relationship with Card, the band begins to laugh. "There was some tension there...we're so much alike...like we're both hyper...and we'll argue for hours," he says.

One night, they were playing a gig at Paddy Burke's. "I'm very mean on stage...and one night, he kept adjusting his volume," Chmura describes. "I know better than that," Isoldi interjects. "It built up for months," Chmura continues. "That was the night...I said to Anthony, 'I'm getting really mad. If he doesn't knock it off.'" Card smiles shyly as Chmura thrashes his arms, mocking the intensity with which he played over Card's performance that night. "I just made it obvious that he was wrong." During the set, the band had to stop playing. "We hung out in the parking lot...we talked and a lot of it was just miscommunication...we're finally figuring out each other...It's like a family thing."

This year, Mighty Mongo won first place in a talent competition at Nova 535 Lounge, as well as the title, "Hardest Working Band." They recorded four of their original songs, "Somebody," "Cleopatra," "Maximus Res," and "Illumination," in January 2010 and will be rerecording "Summer," "Viking," and "Fantasyland." With an increasing number of gigs each week at venues like Paddy Burke's and Vintage Ultra Lounge, the band is constantly recognized throughout St. Petersburg.

Even as they eat pizza downtown, a man hangs out of the window of a moving car to scream, "Yo! Mighty Mongo!" According to Vitola, "Our biggest goal is to make sure that the next month is better than the month before...It's constant progression with our social networking, with our music, and with our abilities as musicians...That we're just constantly building on what we have...We never want - The Examiner


Got Jokes? Entertainment and NOVA 535 hosted the season two finale of their Big Bang Show this past Thursday, June 3, with a lineup of five of the Bay’s most impressive talents vying for the $1,000 cash prize.
This reporter was sure that Mark Byrne “The Balloon Guy” secured first place when he climbed inside a six-foot-tall pink balloon and crawled out in a skin-tight pink jumpsuit. But the audience thought better when it cheered St. Petersburg jam/punk band Mighty Mongo (pictured) into the lead.
Mongo’s ten-minute set featured overtones of Sublime and 311 with a splash of Blink 182 and a djembe-playing friend in a gorilla suit who, strangely enough, didn’t take away from the band’s ability to hold its audience’s attention.
“We have high energy, non-stop,” says Lindsay Vitolla, the band’s bombshell lead singer and occasional keyboard player. “Our band is all about making sure that everyone is having a good time.”
Indeed, one could feel the good vibes just flowing through the room … dude. Mongo’s poppy hooks and slow, Grateful Dead-like breakdowns had everyone swaying their heads through the imaginary purple haze, including yours truly, who wrote down the following note mid-set:

Lots of good energy. Even if it’s not your kind of music, you have to like them, just because they’re likeable people.

Runner-up comedian Whodi had the audience rolling when he took the stage and immediately dropped the N-bomb saying, “Man, y’all just bring the n**ger right out of me.” Soon after, Whodi referenced earlier performer “Balloon Guy” Mark Byrne saying, “Did that guy really put himself inside a fucking balloon? That was beautiful, but I’m a black man, so I can do that with a Magnum, you know what I’m saying?”
Whodi explains that, “As a black man from Mississippi, I do talk about some racial issues,” even dividing his show into two parts: the black part, and the white part. He later revised that earlier comment, saying, “It’s not a racial thing, it’s a cultural thing. We just do things differently.”
Opening comedian Dotti Biscotti did do things differently, leading part of her bit with an explanation of the female G-spot (a worthy subject, in this reporter’s opinion).
For some ladies, you don’t have to go very deep, Biscotti says, but for others, “you have to go a lot deeper, deeper, deeper, all the way around to your wallet,” explaining, “Gold does begin with ‘G’,” doesn’t it, ladies?!

Yes it does. Though a relatively novice performer (“I’ve really only been doing comedy on an off for two-and-a-half years”), Biscotti’s act was the perfect opening to a show that sustained its force throughout, even during the slightly slower, ever-so-slightly less impactful neo-soul set by Lisa “Tophaz” Austrie and her improv band.
Tophaz claims influences from Anita Baker to Billie Holiday to Erykah Badu, but says, “I do me, because I’m not them,” and paraphrases Holiday, “If I was to sing like anybody else, I might as well not sing at all.”
In American Idol style, the performers heard critiques from a three-person panel of judges, led by WILD 94.1’s “Alli That Girl,” who also claims membership in the Got Jokes? cast. Comedian Chuck Glass, last year’s season finale winner and new member of the Got Jokes? team, made an appearance, as well, saying, “I’m glad I’m not competing this year, because some of [these performers] are really, really tough.”
Got Jokes? starts Season 3 on July 1st and will continue the series the first Thursday of every month leading to December’s finale. Tickets can be purchased on NOVA535.com. To become a contestant, contact Daniel “Motown Pride” Jefferson at motownpride@gotjokesimprov.com or 813.393.7725. - Creative Loafing


Every year, the Vans Warped Tour offers local artists a chance to duke it out for a spot on their Ernie Ball Stage. It's a nice feather in the cap for those who make it, as they can forever say: Hey, I played Warped back in the day!
This year we have five local bands performing at the Warped Tour on Friday in St. Pete. Let's intrudoce them!

In Reference to a Sinking Ship: They've got a clunky name, but this Palm Harbor hardcore quintet isn't messing around about their metal. Vocalist Johnny Crowder has a growl that's unmistakably brutal, yet not as gutteral as other death metal bands.

Manhattan Roar: A St. Pete indie-rock band with a stunningly polished indie-rock sound, a la Tokyo Police Club, Maritime or Stars. They've only posted a couple of songs online, but both are 100 percent worth a listen; you'll be convinced you're hearing a national band. Keep an eye on them.

Mighty Mongo: These Tampa reggae-rockers bring a polished, layered and, well, kinda sexy vibe to your standard Sublime-311 fare. Think more Matisyahu. They'll bring a nice level of diversity to this year's Warped Tour.

Misunderstood Sueprheroes: A former Soundcheck Artist of the Day, this New Port Richey band combines a melodic sensibility with a thrashy energy to create a unique hardcore sound.

One Way!: This clearwater ska septet blends sloppy horns with a heavy, old-school skate-punk sound, a little like the Ataris or early Alkaline Trio or MXPX.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the bands that won the Orlando Battle of the Band contest, because there are some familiar names on that bill, too. These bands will play at the Firestone Amphitheatre on Sunday: Dang We're On Fire, Forever & Always, The Starlight Getaway, Forever On High and New City Lions.

If you're going to Warped, buy their merch. They deserve it. - TBT


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Mighty Mongo is a four-piece rock band from St. Petersburg, Florida. Since their inception in October 2009, they have played over 800 shows throughout 20 different states and have organically grown a base of true fans, who dub themselves “Mongolians”. They released a self-titled EP in 2010, a full-length album titled “Let’s Make Serious Life Decisions” in 2011, and their second full-length, “Exclaim Yourself!”, in July of 2012.

Mighty Mongo is best described as party-rock punk. They have been known to create an unforgettable live-show experience, bringing their music to life with stellar stage presence and lots of crowd participation. They were featured on the “Kevin Says” Stage of the 2012 Vans Warped Tour from Boston on July 19 all the way through the final show in Portland on August 5, and have since released released several singles to terrestrial and independent radio stations in Seattle, Boston, Atlanta and Inverness. Their singles “Immafish”, “Myth Head” and “Jack Is Jill” are currently in regular rotation.

Armed with an unmatched work ethic, glowing reputation and winning smile, Mighty Mongo plans to hit the road again in the Spring of 2013, completing another independent tour, before continuing on to a national summer tour schedule. Being on the road is something they are incredibly passionate about, so check out the SHOWS section to see when Mongo is coming to a city near you!

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